Benefits of Accessibility

Pennsylvania’s wounded service members and veterans will enjoy kayaking, biking, fishing and other outdoor activities thanks to a special event hosted by the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation and Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Service Members and their families can try accessible forms of recreation, improve their skills and enjoy the outdoors for free at Pinchot Outdoors Day – The Outdoors is for everyone on September 7, at Gifford Pinchot State Park in the Conewago Day Use area from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.

The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF) and the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center (QOLT) have collaborated to establish a comprehensive visual assist system for people who are blind and low vision.

In contrast to the rapidly changing smartphone, iPad and laptop computer market, current technology for people who are blind is still clumsy and archaic. The TRF proprietary project, however, will create a system for enhancing the ability of people who are low-vision and blind to navigate and interact with their surroundings. The system will work by constructing a virtual 3-D environment for an Immersive Navigational Informatics System that builds and communicates a description of the virtual environment for users and allows for further electronic interaction to occur via voice and speech-recognition software. Read more about the visual assist system for people with vision disabilities.

A motorized wheelchair tray called, “RoboDesk” may help people with disabilities more easily handle mobile devices such as an iPad and overcome the limitations of tables and moving from the chair.

RoboDesk and other assistance technologies are being developed by Brad Duerstock, an associate professor of engineering practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering, in the Purdue Institute for Accessible Science. Read more about RoboDesk.

Among the four million Australians with disabilities many cannot access apps, websites or digital television content that is available to the rest of the nation. Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy, Senator Kate Lundy, says that a re-elected Labor government would support new laws that ensure more disabled people can access websites and digital content.

ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin spoke at the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network’s M-Enabling Conference on Wednesday and called for new laws mandating minimum accessibility standards for websites, digital content and television. She referred to the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act in the US, which will ensure most television programming in the US is available on network catch-up services, and on commercial video-on-demand services such as iTunes, will have captions by March 2014. Read more about support for digital accessibility in Australia.

Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, recently released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities. In a recent blog post, Governor Markell explains that, “only 20 percent of the 54 million Americans living with a disability are employed or seeking employment, compared to almost 70 percent of people without disabilities.” That is why he released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities as a blueprint for governors, which is not about feel-good social policy but about employing individuals with disabilities because it is good business.

“Be more like us,” says Secretary of State John Kerry describing the message delivered by The Disabilities Treaty. The Treaty is intended to open the world to Americans with disabilities. Ratification will help provided Americans with the same protection globally that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides them on US soil. Moreover, it will enable Americans with disabilities to participate fully in the global economy. Read more about the The Disabilities Treaty.

Your Guide to Understanding the Canadian Human Rights Act,” is a new video that includes both American Sign Language (ASL) and Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) as well as English and French captioning. People with low literacy or vision disabilities will benefit from the audio track, which is in both English and French. The project to create this accessible video was led by Jim Roots, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, who collaborated with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) on the production.

A new tiny wearable device called the OrCam uses audio feedback to relay visual information to people with vision disabilities. The revolutionary computer will enable blind and low vision individuals to take on new tasks that would otherwise require assistance. Watch video of the OrCam.

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